with the project that came this book four years ago this summer. i had just finished law school, and i was studying for the bar exam in new york, actually at nyu law school, which is just over there, and i was in the library trying to concentrate on studying for the bar, which is not an easy thing to do in july, and sister ping was on trial downtown. at that time and the press was covering it and there were these interesting stories about this woman who had been what is none in china has a snake head or a human smuggler. she had for a price, she would bring people illegally from one country to another and generally from her home province in southeast china, just across the street from taiwan to new york city. :
>> and that sort of disconnect was part of what appealed to me initially, this idea he was this person providing a service. it was an illegal service. she was violating the law by bringing people out of china without the proper documentati documentation. through a whole different series of waystation, from thailand,
kenya, guatemala and into the united states. these were hazardous journeys. in the introduction you heard some instance there was some 17000-mile journey. one of the ships i'm going to talk about, the golden venture, had been at sea for 120 days by the time the passengers got here. they had been in a hold of the ship for 120 days. that didn't mean anything to me. i didn't give it much thought. 300 people, in a space probably if we started at the shelf there and connected to the wall over there, would be smaller than this base. for 120 days, and i was trying to find historical analogues for other big wedges. i thought what about the mayflower? that came to plymouth with all the pilgrims. in 1620, how long were they a seat? they were at sea for 60 days. and the people on the golden venture for 120.
the problem is some of the ships were not seaworthy, and sometimes they would overturn. people would go into debt to pay really enormous fees in order to come here to the united states. in the 1980s, you had to pay a snakehead was $18000. by the 1990s when they start moving people on the boats, the price had gone down. and had gone a. that he was $35000. when the fuji needs for start coming, chinatown had been a very can't nease community. they can't these kind of look down their nose a little bit at the fuji needs with a for started arriving. what i thought i would do is just great kind of a little bit and talk all of it and then we can open it up. talk a little bit about this community that start emerging really in the early 1980s on the eastern fringe of chinatown.
those of you who know chinatown, we're talking east of the bowery. but east of the bowery. sister ping herself came in 1981. came legally in 81. and started bringing people. she was kind of a focal point in that community. what would happen is basically people come and they would work around the clock in order to pay off this debt that they had accrued. there's a misconception which a snakehead smuggles you over. you pay a snakehead to w. over. you don't have $35000 up front. the misconception is you would get here and you and your people were slaves two years to the snakehead. the snakehead was forced them into servitude. that wasn't the way it worked. from the snakehead's point of you if you're a smuggling ring a lot of people get here you don't want have to keep track of all these different people to all you money for your. people would generally have about 72 hours to pay the balance of the dead when they arrived here. this is where things get tricky.
during a 72 hour period, they were often held by gangsters and sometimes they were held at gunpoint. if they couldn't satisfy the rest of the debt, sometimes harm was done to them or their family members. most people weren't able to a lot of hard work to pay off the fee in about a year or two. i'm going to redo a bit about this community and the role of sister ping developed. by working long hours and letting frugally, the fujianese managed to say that because their labor was off the books, it was also tax free. most fujianese arrivals were able to pay off their snakehead debt within a couple of years. despite or perhaps because of the depredations, the fujianese forged a strong insular ethnic enclave on the fringes of chinatown. after six or as many as 13 consecutive days were, most new arrivals took a day of rest, known as a cigarette day to shop, recreate and gamel. to indulge in a few luxuries
like cigarettes. monday is a slow day in the restaurant to pick after a week of slicing broccoli or pushing them up, young men would wind away faster fishmongers and video shops, the storefront grocers with the bushels of fruit, the plastic vats of dried mushrooms. as often as not they would end up at the variety store which is sister ping's first shop. really not far from here. sister ping resided asking after family members advising youngsters to learn english, though she wouldn't do so herself. and at human relationships. the chinese expression that entails connection. the kind of interlocking favors and dependencies that bind a community together. local fujianese began to visit sister ping when they need help or advice. a restaurant worker who had lost his job because of an injury and could expect no compensation for his employer was visited sister
ping and explain his predicament. little brother, take the she said. hand in $2000. pay me back when you can. three times a year she makes its to hong kong to buy merchandise, and often she was accompanied on the plane by the american board babies of illegal fujianese from the neighborhood. these were parents that didn't have legal status in the u.s.a. and needed someone to bring their children to china, she explained that i would do it for them, free of charge here this is one of the ironies, people go to great lengths to get out of china and come here. often illegal and then they would get here and have babies who were born in the estates of the u.s. citizens. the first thing that i don't want to do was send the babies back to china. people working so much around the clock and for so little faith they didn't necessarily have the funds to take care of the children. what they would do is send it back to china to be raised by the grandparents. it's weird you have this traffic going in one direction to the u.s. and it people get here and
send their babies back in the other direction. sister ping was active in both of these lanes. sister ping ran the store and oversaw the books. she was the dominant partner with her husband always hovering in the background. almost as as soon as you ride and chinatown in 1981 she became a well-known, well-respected figure. notable for working hours after store that were long even by chinatown standard. for demonstrate a fujianese interest and acumen for interest. and for maintaining a modest demeanor and a simple indulgent freeware life. even as she became and entrepreneurial success story. i was incredible, she would later say when asked about her status in the neighborhood. i had a conscious. i did things for free, as favorite that i treated him well. i know it's difficult for people to be in a foreign land. see also developed a reputation during these years as someone who could move people. at this point of the book, goes
in to describe the way in which sister ping started out in businesses. initially was a very handsome operation. she would bring in people and ones and twos. they were taken on planes with phony documents of some sort and she would accompany them on different legs of the journey. what happened if she was so good at it, that she gained a reputation in the marketplace for being a really good snakehead and became more and more popular with more and more demand. particularly after 1989, there was a huge boom and a lot of people wanted to come to the united states, wanted to leave china. business got very good for sister ping and for numerous other snakehead that nobody knows the actual numbers of people who came in this way during this period. but to give you a sense, the cia estimate in 1995 that roughly 100,000 people were coming illegally from the for john province to the i stayed in this manner. there were roughly paying $35000 ahead to you can do the math. the fbi sort of famously said of
sister ping that they think she over the years made around $40 million. as a friend of mine said, that's all tax-free so that's $80 million to you and me. [laughter] >> as the business got bigger what happened not just with sister ping but with a lot snakehead is a good and keep up with demand. they couldn't bring people on planes quickly enough. what they would do is put them in chips. and if you think about it in a way that the snakehead trade was no different than any other kind of global shipping. unfortunately if you think of the people as a commodity than they are economies of scale. you want to keep up with demand and move people is that you can. so what start happening as you would get these ricci and not very seaworthy ships. coming very close to the united states but not actually to u.s. shores because it would be too dangerous. so what would happen is they would come sort of maybe
100 miles out, still in international waters. then people would head out and fishing boats to meet them and they would offload the ships. this was a dangerous process. i've heard it described from people who do, it would not be up to safety code. you basically have 300 people on a ship. there in the high seas, a small fishing boat comes out and the tide would be bring the two up like this and they would sort of wait until they were somewhat close and don't tell everyone on the big ship job and they would shut down. occasionally what would happen if they would get very close and bashed together. there was danger that you would get crushed. and at this point in her career, sister ping made what i think a lot of people regard as sort of a fatal mistake. in terms of the arc of her criminal story. which is that she turned to a guy known in the neighborhood who was a young engstrom, the head of the gang. and hit come from fujian
province when he was still a teenager. a very smart ruthless individual who came as a teenager that he had a snakehead got him a flight to south america. they had a stopover in lax. and a 14 of 15 your kids without the necessary paperwork to enter the united states with no english and nobody within. he got off the plane at lax during a stopover and just walked out of the airport. and somehow found his way to new york city and joined this game. he was a dangerous guy who to this day people and chinatown that i've spoken with find kind of an alarming scary figure. he ended up pleading guilty to five murders. the first time he encountered sister ping was when he and his gang robbed her family at gunpoint. and he actually put a gun advocate and they took money from her. a second time he encountered was when they did it again, because they hadn't got enough money
from her the first time. the third time they encountered one another, sister ping asked him to go into business with her. because you become very good at bringing these fishing boats out to meet the big ships and offload ships. i could go on and on about the psychology of sister ping all day. but there is a kind of pragmatism so that when the 21st met, he said look, i've got to apologize up front for those times a few years ago when i rob your family and pointed a gun at your daughter. and she said, it was in the past. we're doing business now. and that was that. they start working together. what i want to do is read -- if i can find it -- a little passage about this and their relationship to some of the ministries of it. and the one thing you should do is that sister ping was arrested
in the late '80s, and she did four months in prison for a smuggling operation. should gotten caught in a sting. and there was a young -- what the fbi did at that point, they sent a young cantonese american because they didn't have any fujianese at the time. and any special agents who were fujianese on the fbi. they sent this cantonese guy commit with sister ping imprisonein prison. she started watering of the. so i'm talking about sister ping and ah kay start working together. when the fbi began investigating organized crime in the united states, they found that it differed in several fundamental ways from the paradigms they had developed over decades of studying the sicilian mafia. chinese organized criminals did not adhere to any fixed hierarchies or organizational structures. the original chinese triads met in secret ritual and byzantine code of conduct and allegiance. but there were no blood oath among the asian gangs in america. rather chinatown heroin dealers and human smugglers, as rocket
man and pam, thought of themselves as entrepreneurs and opportunist driven above all by a mercenary sense of self interest. family loyalty may have been a deep and enduring bond among fujianese, but after familial loyalties didn't make sense from a business point of view. alliances and coalitions were ever evolving and an assortment of underworld ties my come together in a temporary joint venture in order to move a shipment full of migrants or china white. that is, heroin. but when they were split up, then they would split up and go their separate ways looking for the next promising opportunity. the flipside of this is that while loyalty was bad for business, grudges were as well. and that may in part explain how was that sister ping found herself in business with ah kay, a violent youth who had robbed her twice. and threaten the lives of her children. it must have seemed strange to trade as sister ping had so readily forgiven his
transgressions to get must've seemed to him that sister ping's paramount devotion to her own business was what led him off the hook. she had kids coming in and he could offload ships. expediency can pardon a multitude of sins. but expedient he worked in a number of ways. what ah kay did not know when he and sister ping went into business is that she had already enacted a quiet revenge. what none of her associates and hydrolyze was after her release from prison she continued to meet with the young cantonese american fbi agent and out of the way coffee shops and restaurants in new york and give them information. lee eventually terminate the relationship that she was anything but reform. and the fbi downplayed information sister ping provided suggesting that she did not furnish agents with anything about you. but it has also been suggested that she used the young and naïve lady feeding him information on her rival in the
snakehead trade. during the period when ah kay was getting into the smuggling business, sister ping was meeting with peter lee. he would quiz her about chinatown gangs and snakehead and shoulders of his photographs asking her to identify various figures captured in the glossy black and white. does one explanation for sister ping's willingness to forgive ah kay. a little the trail of her own. about which he would never know. until now i suppose. sister ping was giving information about ah kay to the fbi. what's interesting is in fact, sister ping gave information to the fbi about ah kay. eventually ah kay would get information about sister ping. ultimately he would testify against her and the trail. everybody was cooperating in all kinds of different ways in many people were betray one another. so it turns out fairly -- is a fairly kind to us to an interesting
i want to shift focus all of the to talk about the golden venture and the other part of the book because at least thus far it sounds we're talking a book that is strictly about crime. but this is also a book about migration. and about the immigrant express and america. and my thinking terms of sister ping and the golden venture and law enforcement and what had is in some ways is for you want to tell is when we go and interview everyone. the police, fbi, undocumented fujianese, sister ping, snakeheads, people they have smuggled, immigration lawyers, officials who determine immigration policy in washington. everybody sort around, through the whole, along the whole continuum. and the centerpiece that brings all these people together is the voice of the golden venture, which some of you as new yorkers i am sure our family with or have take memories of. after sister ping and ah kay
cooperate on a number of ships, there was a ship that came to new york in 1993 called the golden venture. as it happened, the event another shipwreck of the so which was supposed to come to the u.s. it faded -- it made as far as canyon. these passengers many of them sister ping's passengers but also other snakehead passengers were stranded. they had planned on going to the united states. the voyage had taken longer. they were stuck. they didn't know what to do. one of the main characters in the book adopted the american name don chan. he was a passenger on this version. this guy, whatever you come down on the immigration debate, and we can discuss it and i'm sure we will, you have to appreciate what people like this guy went through. he was 17 or 18 and he left his home with very little money, no
id, no passport, no nothing, no backpack that he made his way on the border to burma. snuck into burma, spent a couple of months trekking through the jungle covered mountains of burma. which was pretty perilous to you. of the chinese with the snakehead had the idea that you would see the bodies of people coming before you.ofater on the. and he eventually made it to the golden trying of witches at the time the center for global opiate reduction. patrolled by warlords. made it through their into thailand. got to bangkok and spent about six months in a safe house in bangkok because they couldn't get him on the plane. he was so young that they're trying to get him a passport, you can't the way you get a phony passport is you would buy a legitimate passport off a
tourist that they couldn't find any word it looked young enough for him to say look, this is me. so he's in a safe house for six months. then he gets on the ship. it breaks down in kenya. and he is six months in kenya, stuck there. and eventually the ship, the golden venture which sister ping and ah kay collaborate on, cayman taken a. it was a real nightmare for the 300 people on board. what happened basically was ah kay again was supposed to go and offload the ship. sister ping and the other snakehead were going to get them to do this. but the profits the snakehead trade was jerry at the time of so much there was a fight with him again. there was a rift. ah kay under brothers worked to go because she. the store get very weird. there was this one house by like
it was a fuk ching safe house. the guys were all there hanging out, and a rival faction of the game rolled up, came inside and massacred them all. kill them all. is a quadruple homicide. a terrible, terrible scene. the thinking have become if we go until those guys, there's the ship coming in, remember, 300 customers, $35000 a hit. we can be the ones to go out and get a ship. but these bozos, you know, all got back into the van. it's like 6 p.m. in may and december. there are all these people, these young chinese guys with machine guns and into a dodge caravan and kind of take off. somebody said we should probably check the gw bridge because they might be try to get into manhattan. that roll up to the bridge and cops, in, pulled him over and they all get out covered with blood. i should be making light of it, but kind of a absurd, ludicrous
situation. the guys were supposed to meet the ship or did. the guys who thought they would do it now were now jill. no one was there to meet the ship that it came off the coast of new york and nobody really knew what to do. they thought first let's turn around. than they thought they would be a mutiny. than there actually was a mutiny. which is, that is to say, some snakeheads took over and to pose the captain and the passengers were not able to take control. a crazy plan i found that was briefly entertained with the guys in the ship at a map of new york harbor, and so the onshore said what i want you to do is look at manhattan look at the bottom right there, there's two bridges, that are really close together. just bring the ship up between those two bridges on the left hand side, stop right there. which would've been between manhattan and brooklyn bridge. but they didn't do that. so what they did is they ran the
ship aground and they told all the passengers to jump out because if they could make it to land they would get asylum and they could stay in the u.s. everybody jumped off the ship. 10 of them ended up dying trying to swim to shore. one of the strange and the stores about these people, they were, why they left china, the trips that they took to get here, the experience on the golden venture. and then what happened to them when they got to. so this is the last will but i will read you to give you a little bit of background. part of the reason sony people coming and had become very easy for chinese people to get asylum to the u.s. we essentially said if you're here and your are a democracy protester or for a post the one child policy, then we'll make it easier for you to get asylum. in a weird perverse way bistro people to pay the state gets to
bring her to undertake users because the deal with assamese you have to be here in order to have support so people would do this to get here. the golden venture chancellor. so high to it arriving, there have been two dozen ships that accompanied us in his mayor. people had managed to get in and make their way to to the asylum system. almost as soon as the golden the tour, so i'm just going to read about this sort of reversal. and the last moment at sea, he could feel that pick up speed. they had been warned to brace themselves and he had grown accustomed during the months and the whole to clutching his belongings and positioning his limbs in such away that he did not roll helplessly with every undulation. they basically put plywood, two levels of plywood and the whole of the ship and each person got 60 by 2 feet space but there was nothing to hold onto. it was rolling around. the hold was electric with excitement and anticipation.
and had all been worth the. the sacrifice, the danger, the hunger, seasickness and storms. the treks through burma, the lonely months in bangkok, and the hopeless interlude in africa. it was over. they had triumphed. they were about to set foot on american soil. a huge flow of, everyone around john was thrown by an back rolling and sprawling and in trying to get purchase on the plywood floor, grabbed her belongings and get out of the hull. they mobbed the single ladder leading to the day. he joined the throng eventually getting his hands on the latter and climbing up and out into the night that the wind was strong, the air salty. the lights of new york a glimmer in the distance. the small deck of the ship was chaotic. people were shouting and screaming, gathered a few belongings and jumping overboard into the sea. he could swim. he wasn't a strong swimmer but he had learned how to swim
growing up and knew that if he kept moving all four limbs in the water, he would stay afloat. he made his way to the front of the golden venture, took off his t-shirt and his band, summon his nerves, put a leg over the edge and jumped. his first sensation was the center terrible coldness of the water. the kind of chill that zaps any strength or energy you have, seeming literally to freeze your limbs brittle and useless. paralyzing. he found the strength to move his arms and legs. he swam, eyes on the lights of the short. he could have been in the water for 10 minutes or it could have been and are. he didn't know. he just kept pushing against his exhaustion. buffeted by the serve, one arm over the other until his feet hit the same. he half walk, half crawled the remaining yards until you reach the beach were others were coming ashore around him. then he straightened, took a few more steps, and collapse. when he came to you is like an event in a brightly lit room. he was wearing an unfamiliar garment. a simple cotton shift, a
hospital sure. there was a black man standing above him in a uniform. a police officer. the officer was speaking to him in english. he tried to do with the english had learned from his dictionary in bangkok, in practice over the months at sea with anyone who could speak it. where am i? he asked. you're in new york city, the cop replied. sean felt an enormous almost overwhelming sense of relief. but the relief was tempered somewhat by one especially strange detail of his new surroundings. as sean later in hospital with a police officer, and slowly took it all in, he made an alarming discovery. he was handcuffed to the bed. and what ended up happening to sean and the others is that they were thrown in prison. because having up until that point essentially, if you're coming here and asking for sun, we will give you an asylum
hearing. and it may take you a while to get a hearing but we will let you out. it was decided that that had become a magnet, drawing people so we couldn't do that anymore. the golden venture was the ship that changed all that. so all these passengers were thrown in prison. and sean and many others were farmed out to a prison in york pennsylvania. there was an theories about why this happened. they were so many immigration lawyers in new york they all start going pro ball as i we want to help you. then suddenly, all these passengers end up on buses going out to cow country. there's something interesting does happen, which is the community in york actually rallied around these immigrants. all of these people, different political stripes, you know, different backgrounds kind of came together around the cause of these detainees. but having said that, a large
contingent of the passengers were imprisoned for almost four years. never charged with a crime apart from having entered without authorization to do so. when they were released they were not given green cards. they were paroled out, and so a lot of them are living in legal limbo today. with that i think i want to just stop and see if you have questions. i mean, this sort of gives you a sense of the different types of issues. and we can really go anywhere you would like with his. but thank you. [applause] [inaudible] >> let me give you this. >> the chinese have come here,.
[inaudible] >> a really interesting question. i think, look, there's a huge amount of back and forth. and i went to fujian province myself last year, and the most astonishing thing for me is i was going and i wanted to see this environment that people had done so much to leave in the '80s and 90s. i mean, they risked everything to get out. and i got there and it's like the economy was booming, you know, construction projects everywhere. it was very sort of, kind of glitzy. everybody seems happy. it didn't seem like a kind of repressor impoverished society can odyssey that is important because so much has changed. i think that it inevitably the kind of cross currents that you're going to get between china and the u.s. when the
committees are close, there was not a village i walked through and fujian province for someone's what they were you from, and i was a new york. and they would say my cousin has a restaurant on henry street. we would start talking. i think inevitably on a cultural level that's going to have an impact. i should also say in a more pronounced way, on an economic level it is staggering. the investment for people who have left is really amazing. there's aside as i did get into which is that sister ping, part of what she was know for is not just many people here, but remitting moneyback. in some ways she was as well known for running an underground bank which was a really ingenious operation. what you do as she basically did move the money. she had a big pile of cash and a big pile of cash in china. if you need to send money back to china unicom as i want to send x. or y. she would just call summer in china and they would pay it out of that amount there.
and if there were people sending money here, they would bounce books at the end of the month and it would work. she set a huge amount of money that way. in one of the really big population centers, and were hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have left to come to the u.s., there's this amazing monument in the center of town. which is really unlike anything i've ever seen. it's at a big intersection. there's this huge thing and it looks like a sail. but it has these two little airplane wings on it. and i asked somebody. i was driving around with her, what is this monument? what does this signify. she said, it was built to honor the many people who've left on planes and boats. because they brought great prosperity to our city. which just let me as interesting. culturally, the idea that you would almost sort of venerate the people who left, that what
your area accelerated was leaving. certainly in the '80s and 90s, this was the real kind of engine of growth. i promise i won't be as a long winded in answering the next question. >> one of the things that struck me the book was -- [inaudible] >> how concentrated the immigration was, each wave, you can sort of trace an enormous amount of the chinese have ended up in the united states to to very small parts of china. and i'm curious, just why that is? why it's been traditionally so concentrated in a few places. >> well, i think that there are -- okay, i'm going to be long winded. i think there are two reasons for the. one is, one i don't think it's not distinct chinese at all,
which is the demographers called his chain of migration. one brings 10, 10 bring 100. and the idea would basically be in many cultures people coming from in different parts of the world, a pioneer comes, they find a new place. they say this isn't so bad. there stephen jobs, decent schools. word spreads in that way. so certainly i didn't do a huge amount of kind of looking at different ethnic groups, but i know, 100 years ago if you were to go down to mott street, there were buildings that had only people not just from mike italy, but from a particular village. and the same thing kind of played itself out that and the chinese complex i think there's something different. and a has to do with policy in both the u.s. and in china. so you basically have to print a time when large number of people have come from china to the u.s.
the first of the mid-19th century. 1840s, '50s, '60s. when we were recruiting people because we wanted to build the rear of and work in the miter box and lots of people came. they came from a small handful of townships around what is today while joe. that was sort of the first source of people. the fact they all came from there wasn't the typical immigrant story, even in the 19th century, they knew they were on the coast. then you get chinese exclusion. in the end of the 19th century we basically say that's it. enough. people still do come from china to the u.s. during those years that follow. but by and large, they have to come illegal and you don't really get large number of people coming from china in the next few decades. we get to world war ii. the chinese exclusion is there going strong that point. there's this awkwardness for us that now china is our ally against japan. so roosevelt repeals chinese exclusion in world war ii.
okay, you can come. button mouse takes over after the war. went by optical we basically said no one can leave. so you have the u.s. basically on one side of the century, and in china on the other side of the city. and a combined so that for almost 100 years, you couldn't legally come from china to the u.s. things start to liberalize under don in the '70s and 80s. and it becomes possible. not to the point where large numbers of fujianese good pieces to come. it was enough they could move around, around, go to various other countries like guatemala or canada and then make the waiter. so i think that's part of the reason you get these to pronounced moments. it is would and i think it's something a lot of people don't know about the chinese and the united states. there are a lot of people from sichuan or wherever else took the bulk of the chinese in the u.s. come from these two tiny low places.
>> you may not have the answer, but i'm discouraged to hear more about the nonhierarchical aspect of chinese organized crime as contrasted with the mob. does that make them less powerful? why is that to? doesn't mean somebody like sister ping is not sort of a note of power because there are people that are there to replace her? >> big question. is where judges use the word node because i would say the chinese organized crime as i've come to understand and has been it's going to be by the fbi and others who have worked on is very much a network kind of thing in which you have notes. sister ping was a much a node. what makes a network difficult is to be the chinese -- you have rico, you can take down the family. there's a gambino family. you start with the boss.
you can take out the fan and that's that. hopefully they will not be replaced or in the snakehead business it's all in that work. you can take out the node and indeed sister ping is now in prison now for the rest of her life. but other snakehead will step up. so i think that it's -- i mean, it's such a bigject. it's a much more network. is much more fluid. is not a sense of hierarchy. this is part of what's frustrating to me. i think occasionally you have kind of cultural misconceptions in the u.s. i mean, about all kinds of groups. when it comes to chinese organized crime, this sort of notion that i'm writing about the triethnic the triads are a totally different thing. it's completely unrelated. this is much more business oriented. but in some ways i think this is a much more robust kind of system and away because one person gets arrested and someone else will step up and take their
place. >> this is related a little bit to the previous question, but could you talk a bit about to what degree violent or at least the threat of violence played in the snakehead process? >> absolutely. it played in both direct and indirect ways. in the dreck since it came up safe houseas you bring peo and it was under threat of violence that they would be obliged to pay the bounds of their fees. and there were also and other direction if there was so much money in this that like any other form of organized crime people started fighting. it's amazing how to think about. some of you must never chinatown in the late '80s and early '90s. but it was a horrifically violent place. i think to some extent the fact
i lot of this crime was chinese on chinese and the law enforcement was maybe a little slow to pick up on the. to give you an example does a big episode in the story in the store.hich is a shoot out in a a lot of beepers in this book. in a beeper store on allen street where basically it was -- it was his fight with the fuk ching gain. someone walked in this beeper store at 3 p.m. and killed three guys. when i first started reporting on this, the start in the new york magazine years ago. i did the first thing you do which is you go back and look for the old press clippings. double homicide and a business on a weekday. on allen street. there was not a single line in the daily news, the new york post, the "new york times," anything which goes to show you how bad it was that given that we had that shooting up on 120 history, about six month ago where no one was killed. the front page of the times the
next day. times have changed. so i think it did come in and there was this threat of violence. but also played out in weird ways that i think made difficult for law enforcement. to give you an example, say ups take a. you pay them two or $3000. you get here on a ship that your transport to a safe house. you don't speak english, there's no place you could go. even if you ran away, it wouldn't be good. there's a guy with a gun who's there in the house with you. but often he comes from a village close to the two came from in china and you guys are so talking to him and he's not pointed the gun at your head and let you actually defaults. the cops and prosecutors would try to bring these as hostagetaking cases. they were really enamored of trying to bring hostage charges against the snakehead's. the interesting thing is a lot of the time the victims of this would that i wasn't really a
hostage that this was a contractual situation. i knew going in that i need to pay the bounds of my seat. if people don't pay the bounce when the data, snakehead are going to do what they do. that's a bad outcome for all of us because we want people to get to the u.s. so it was a violent. and i don't mean to sugarcoat sister ping in the least that i see her as a morally ambiguous character in some ways, or more ambiguous than the sort of daily news version is like a double women. face plastered across, whenever talking about steak is today, the snake slithers into court. i think she's more competent competent than that. at the same time there were at least according to my life for the source in the book, there were instances in which people didn't they and their family back and she got a call saying we're going to abdicate your kids eat if you don't send the money. so violent was always there.
>> how does the rate of immigration currently compared to the was in the '80s and 90s? >> it's dropped off. it's weird because during the period that i was running his book, china was booming. the funny antidote i tell about the one i got to -- my first trip to the region i went, i was entirely because thailand, bangkok have have been a big up to snakehead. i said, i'm writing a book about chinese human smuggling. and they said people being smuggled into china, that's a huge problem. [laughter] and i realized times have indeed change. think that certainly slow down when they were opportunity. when i was in fujian province, snakehead are still doesn't. one thing they said, kind of surprising to me was they said back in the '80s and '90s it was the most ambitious kind of entrepreneurial people, the
risktakers, the kind of cream that rises to the top of basically said i'm too big for this done, i'm going to go and make it in the u.s. those are the ones who let. i would say from an immigration point of view, you can argue these were the people we want in the united states. if we had to choose, these were the people we want. they said now that the economy is so good, in china, those people are now saying -- people said why would i want to go and be on document and chinatown in new york and worked as a dishwasher when i could be here and save money and start a factory. so that's change. having said that, since the economic crisis, you've seen some really interesting happened in china along the coast. which is the labor force is incredibly sensitive to every economic change and development as manufacturing suffered and have been factory closures and people cutting back.
there's been an enormous internal migration of people leaving the coast, and leaving these and various big manufacturing centers and heading inland to go back to their villages that they left behind. i'm completely speculating, but it is my hunch that if that trend continues, you won't just the large numbers of people going inland. you also see large numbers of people leaving again. >> and what to snakehead's charge that? >> well, the business has changed. there's a kind of sticker shock moment. it is now $70000 is the price that i heard again and again. but it's change. $70000, by large that's for your flying with phony doctors of some sort. so you know, there's less risk for you. if you think about, the snakehead have to come up with a lot more in or to make this happen. there are also still ships i'm told that are going to almost
never directly to the coast of the u.s., but to places like guatemala, where the navy is incredibly corrupt. sister ping had the guatemala navy on the payroll. so they will actually bring people and and and people will come overland through mexico. and there's all kinds of interesting interactions between snakehead and coyotes who were there kind of analog on the mexican border. >> we have time for maybe one more question. >> nothing? >> thank you very much. >> thank you all for coming out. [applause] >> patrick radden keefe is a fellow at the century foundation. he's the author of "chatter:
dispatches from the secret world of global eavesdropping." to find out more visit patrickraddenkeefe.com. >> ladies and gentlemen, i am delighted to see you all here at the british embassy, and of course a special welcome to harold evans and tina brown. we in the embassy are delighted to be participating in the launch of harry's book, my paperchase. the book covers and i've started reading it, the book covers a
huge amount of ground from harry's childhood in the north of england and for a time, you won't know this, you are living and ankles a few hundred yards from where julia later grew up. then on to his professional career as a journalist and editor, publisher and author. but this isn't just another autobiography. this is also a biography of the newspaper industry over many, many significant decades. and the book describes that almost industrial process of producing a newspaper over really the best part of the last century. now all that has and one vanished with the book, is a slightly not an obituary from print journalism. mark twain said, i'm not an editor of a newspaper and shall
always try to do right and be good so that god will not make me one. [laughter] >> harold evans is 14 year tenure as the editor of the sunday times, and then a year as the editor of the daily times of london. produced work of really extraordinary high standard. in 2001, journalist named him the greatest british newspaper editor of all time. [laughter] >> and he championed what yesterday's review of the book in the "new york times" called a crusading style of journalism in which he and his paper afflicted the guilty and championed the innocent. and people of my generation who got interested in national and international politics, very often did so because of the sunday times because of its flare, its cultural leadership and its investigative zeal. but this is also a transatlantic
store. harold evans' first encounter with americans, i regularly, was during the second world war in manchester. and his fellowship in 1956 began a lifelong association. and he and tina have lived here for nearly 30 years. although tina doesn't remember, we were her contemporary's at oxford, and she had a knack of stopping the traffic they're just as she's done here and since. harris american career took him to u.s. news and world report, and a number of other top publication, from random house and from publishing to writing, including the award-winning american century. now, you, harry and to become are both now american citizens. i'm not holding that against you. [laughter] >> but you retain close links with the u.k. this embassy and i wish the book every success. it's a remarkable story. so ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming sir harry evans.
[applause] >> i just got to adjust. i can be elevated so i have to lower this. thank you so much for those actually words. it's always good to come back to britain. which is where we are. this is british territory, you understand. not to go through the formalities of proving land, which is what happens of course when you go through any security. it is true, julia lived very close to me. and he's lucky because we never met. [laughter] >> because who knows, tina, what might've happened if i met the gorgeous julia who became a scientist and, like me, ended up in the united states. tonight really it should be a
celebration, not of me frankly, but of reporting. that's what my book is about. it's about what newspapers can achieve, not what an editor can achieve. but what the reporters on the ground can achieve. that's what i am particularly on a tonight to have been bradley here, who represents journalism at its best. and many other excellent reporters here. i'm also glad of course, we are here which is a synthesis i think of remarkable quality about what best that's going on at the moment. because few people apart from me can read every newspaper every day. and so, the week provides that synthesis and guide as well. so celebrating reporting means actually, which all of us knows what reporting is.
news is what somebody somewhere was to suppress. everything else is advertising. [laughter] >> and and, of course, everyone in journalism will know the truth of that. what i would like to say, one of the reasons, when i was writing this book i was really -- i did get nostalgic. especially in these times when people are questioning the value of print it and what it might do. and was able to achieve, was not by me. it was by these reporters. so when we were campaigning for victims who were born without arms and very often without arms and legs, on government approved prescription. we won a great battle against the drug companies.
dual citizenship, i do not that's going to make life difficult before me now, we were able to do that. because the reporters in question actually studied the chemistry of it. and i remember going along and sing the molecular structure. and frankly nobody died. nobody had looked at how the disaster occurred. rough day with your tonight, was determined to support that campaign. a lot of people were supportive and all these campaigns. the dc-10 disaster. the largest aircraft disaster in the world at the time. congress began to investigate and they got bored of. so the truth about what happened to create that terrible disaster was left to the press. and i'm proud of what the reporters on that particular story did. or take another one, i'm sure sir nigel, okay, you can relax.
and exposing the great cover-up and the damage it did, and the lies that he lost was extremely trickle. and i'm going to say again, that was a question of reporting. now, straight reporting is very important. and investigative journalism is only an aspect of it. but it's very difficult form, and in the times we found he was a great way to do it. one of the things i'm very proud that they've achieved was to bring some kind of understanding of the history and the currencies of all is happening in northern ireland. john berry, is here tonight, the head of the inside game, and his team working through some of those difficult circumstances ever, produced a fantastic book and report called perspective. when i was prosecuted by the ira, which i was for suggesting
some of the members were stealing money. i had to go to belfast, and most unfortunate the guys who were escorting me took a wrong turn. to get down, you're in danger. so i got down, but it reminded me of what the reporters on the spot were doing every day. so that's what we're here to celebrate tonight. just at a time and i've seen it more and more, we're really good reporting is being squeezed out of existence. often by meatheads, i called him, people with more, they think newspaper is a great way to make money. it is any longer. and just know that every quarter or newspaper, so it's very -- i think we have to keep reminding everybody that journalism is not dead. the delivery vehicle will change, and so it must change. so that's very important. and i've always been very grateful, my publishers, gave me
the time to try and set out what a newspaper can do. not just the sunday times. what good newspapers can do everywhere. we had a tonight a very distinguished indian editor whom i knew in the 1960s. and he went back to and create a most wonderful publishing empire, television and investigation. again, absolutely central to the conduct of indian democracy is the press. so when we drink tonight, let's drink to reporting, and thank you very much indeed for all of you for coming tonight. [applause] >> this was a portion of a booktv program. you can view the entire program, and many of the book tv programs online.
go to booktv.org. type the name of the author or book into the search area in the upper left hand corner of the page. select the watch link. now you can view the entireyou e recently o booktv box, or the featured video box to find recent and featured programs. from the texas book festival in austin, howard campbell talks about the drug war in the border towns of el paso, texas, and juarez mexo. . .